Strengthening the Fight Against Tuberculosis (TB)
Why in News?
- The fight against tuberculosis (TB) has been going on for over 30 years since it was declared a global health emergency, yet the goal of ending TB by 2030 is still uncertain. The fight against TB needs a renewed focus on three key areas i.e., vaccine development, newer therapeutic agents, and improved diagnostics to meet the goal of ending TB by 2030.
- In 1993, the World Health Organization declared TB a global health emergency and the 1993 World Development Report stated that TB treatment for adults was the best buy among all developmental interventions.
- Since then, the global response to TB has been slow and lacks urgency.
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria was created in response to the call for action against TB at the G7 summit in Okinawa, Japan, in 2001.
- The Global Fund has become the single largest channel of additional funding for global TB control.
- However, it faces constraints due to zero-sum games from donor constituents and competition between the three diseases it finances.
- The StopTB Partnership was constituted to mobilize and marshal a disparate set of actors towards the goal of ending TB.It has been adapting to changes, such as using molecular diagnostic tools developed to respond to bioterrorism to diagnose TB and using social safety programs to address the poverty drivers of the TB epidemic.
- Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.It mainly affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body such as the kidneys, spine, and brain.TB spreads through the air when a person with active TB disease in the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
- Symptoms of TB include coughing that lasts for three or more weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood, fatigue, fever, and weight loss.
- TB can be treated with antibiotics, but drug-resistant forms of TB are a growing concern.
Three key areas that need attention:
- The development of an adult TB vaccine is the first area that needs urgent attention.
- The current vaccine is 100 years old, and the development and wide use of an adult TB vaccine are essential to ending TB.COVID-19 vaccine development process provides insights into accelerating the process.India’s capabilities can play a significant role in vaccine development and equitable distribution.
- Newer therapeutic agents for TB:
- A few new anti-TB drugs are available but face cost and production constraints.
- Shorter, injection-free regimens are needed to improve compliance and reduce patient fatigue.A continuous pipeline of new drugs is essential to combat drug resistance.
- AI-assisted handheld radiology and passive surveillance of cough sounds can revolutionize TB diagnostics.Incentivize biotech startups to disrupt the complexity and price barriers of molecular testing.
- India’s leadership role in the G20 and the upcoming StopTB Partnership board meeting in Varanasi provide the perfect opportunity for India to lead the way in ending TB. With the collective will and action of leaders, it is possible to end TB sooner rather than later.